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NL West hot-stove primer

Steve Henson
Yahoo Sports

Baseball's winter meetings begin Monday in Indianapolis. Yahoo! Sports will go division by division, providing a primer on each team's needs and ability to satisfy them. (Teams listed in order of 2009 divisional finish.)

National League West


Holes to fill: The Dodgers need starting pitching and more starting pitching. Signing a second baseman to replace departed Orlando Hudson(notes) and Ronnie Belliard(notes) is a priority and shoring up the bench after losing Brad Ausmus(notes), Mark Loretta(notes) and Juan Castro(notes) will be necessary. It's possible the Dodgers will try to fill all the needs close to spring training and hope GM Ned Colletti can work his midseason magic again to bolster the starting rotation.

Trade winds: Roy Halladay(notes) will not be a Dodger because Colletti isn't willing to pay the price for him now any more than in July. Catcher Russell Martin(notes) is no longer untouchable. Outfielder Juan Pierre(notes) could be dealt for a similarly overpaid No. 5 starter.

Cash considerations: The Dodgers have a slew of first- and second-year arbitration cases that will require an infusion of $20 million or so. That won't leave much for free agents given the tenuous ownership situation.

By spring training … Jamie McCourt's office at the Dodgers' complex in Glendale, Ariz., will be empty or reassigned and Manny Ramirez(notes) won't test positive for an elevated testosterone level.


Holes to fill: The unexpected 15 victories from Jason Marquis(notes) must be replaced, and maybe Marquis can fill the void himself if he accepts arbitration, a possibility after stating he had no hard feelings about not getting a playoff start. Reliever Rafael Betancourt(notes) might also accept arbitration, getting a raise from $3.35 million. The Rockies will be minor players in free agency, looking for infield backups (Bobby Crosby(notes), Jamey Carroll(notes)) and a second catcher (Yorvit Torrealba(notes) might return) in addition to patching together pitching help.

Trade winds: Outfielder Brad Hawpe(notes) likely will not be traded because he has more value to the Rockies than anybody else. Colorado's surplus of outfielders could be thinned in exchange for a pitcher, but the Rockies don't seem anxious to make a deal.

Cash considerations: Third baseman Garrett Atkins(notes) will be non-tendered but that won't save enough money for the Rockies to splurge in the free-agent market. In fact, they will have difficulty staying around last season's $75 million payroll after doling out arbitration raises.

By spring training … Carlos Gonzalez(notes) and Dexter Fowler(notes) will have joined Hawpe as everyday outfielders and Eric Young Jr. will get an increasing number of at-bats, leaving the Rockies with plenty of speed but a shortage of power.


Holes to fill: The Giants need a big bat, either at first or third base, and a No. 5 starter. Maybe two big bats. How big? Matt Holliday(notes) and Jason Bay(notes) are far too expensive. So, probably, is Adrian Beltre(notes). That leaves the likes of Nick Johnson(notes) or, perhaps, Mark DeRosa(notes).

Trade winds: Acquiring Dan Uggla(notes) from the Marlins and having the flexibility to play him and Freddy Sanchez(notes) at second and third base in some combination with Pablo Sandoval(notes) moving to first base is appealing to GM Brian Sabean. To acquire Uggla, the Giants likely would have to part with another from their fine stable of minor league prospects.

Cash considerations: Tim Lincecum(notes) is due an enormous raise in his first year of arbitration. Starter Jonathan Sanchez(notes) and closer Brian Wilson(notes) also are entering arbitration for the first time. Result? The existing roster is already nearing the $80 million mark.

By spring training … rookie Buster Posey(notes) will be given every opportunity to become the everyday catcher.


Holes to fill: Identifying needs is the easy part. Finding ways to fill them while continuing to whittle payroll is the challenge. The Padres are destined to remain a bare-bones outfit until new owner Jeff Moorad and new GM Jed Hoyer have an opportunity to evaluate the organization from top to bottom. That might happen quickly enough for a free-agent signing or two this offseason.

Trade winds: Hoyer might be tempted to trade arbitration-eligible starter Kevin Correia(notes), but the Padres' alarming lack of pitching depth makes it unlikely. Whether the Padres take on payroll in a deal might be the first clue as to their intentions in the near future. The Red Sox will pester Hoyer for first baseman Adrian Gonzalez(notes), but it would take a huge haul of prospects for a deal.

Cash considerations: Arbitration raises to closer Heath Bell(notes), third baseman Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) and Correia will take payroll to the $28 million range. Will it bump up from there? Will it be reduced by trading Gonzalez or Bell? The mid-range future of the Padres hangs in the balance.

By spring training … the Padres will continue to more closely resemble a Triple-A team than a major league contender.


Holes to fill: The Diamondbacks need the players they've got to approach their potential more than they need to add pieces. They could sign a back-of-the-rotation starter and another reliever after trading for Aaron Heilman(notes) from the Cubs, but most of their position players are set. They just need to perform.

Trade winds: Conor Jackson's(notes) recovery from Valley fever makes him unlikely to be dealt because he won't command a raise. GM Josh Byrnes would love to trade catcher Chris Snyder(notes), whose balky back and big contract are a bad combination. Flipping Snyder for an overpaid starting pitcher is a possibility. Byrnes is a wheeler and dealer by nature, so no trade by the Diamondbacks should be a surprise.

Cash considerations: The Diamondbacks have some flexibility. Adding $15 million or more to the payroll wouldn't be surprising, although a more likely scenario is to sign a middling starting pitcher and save dry powder for the trading deadline if the young Diamondbacks nucleus bounces back and the team is in contention.

By spring training … the Diamondbacks will be overjoyed that they picked up the $8.5 million option on Brandon Webb(notes).

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